"Nostalgia and craft are funny things. A few years ago, one linked itself to the other and suddenly I was scouring yard sales and junk stores for hammers. In 2005, the historical society headquartered in this small western Oklahoma town decided to build a working blacksmith shop at our local museum. By late spring the following year, the shop was stocked full of antique machinery and tools and ready for an open house. I set an appointment to meet with one the gentlemen involved. It was a cool and foggy morning. As I rolled into the parking spot at the museum, the aroma of the coal fired forge wafted passed me and carried me back to my grandparents place wth Grandpa shoeing horses on just a morning like that one. I was hooked before I walked in the door.Over the following couple of years, the Saltfork Craftsmen Artist - Blacksmith Association held several meetings and classes at our local facility. I studied and hammered with some great teachers from the region but never really 'caught the wave.' Then, one day, a smitty from a nearby town pulled out a roll of heavy copper wire and started hammering. He crafted a long-stemmed rose from the vintage wire. I was hooked. I followed his work and his teaching for several months and expanded my searching of junk stores to include the local recycling shop. There I located some heavy copper pipe and other scrap copper. On a piece of railroad track -also provided by an association member- I started hammering. Using a torch to anneal the metal, I made my first cuff bracelet. Then another and another. After posting a few photos on Facebook, one of my friends offered to buy a piece of 'my' jewelry. Then another friend wanted to buy a piece. Then another. Before long, I was spending my spare time converting my kitchen into a workshop. Instead of a baker's rack, I had a rolling table with two anvils and a collection of hammers, chisels and stamping tools. The rest is -as they say- history. The copper I use is recycled from local scrap yards or online sources. Many times, the local farmers or my friends will trade scrap copper pieces of jewelry for their family members. Barter is a craftsmen friend, I have learned. The copper cuffs and earrings are created in my home workshop. The metal is heated, hammered, and shaped by hand. Once complete, each piece is 'pickled' to remove the fire scale created by the porcess. Instead of toxic chemicals, I use apple cider vinegar and salt as a pickling solution. Then the pieces are neutralized in a baking soda bath work hardened and polished in a tumbler with stainless steel shot. They are then washed again and dried before being 'flame-painted' with a propane torch. The patina is preserved with a museum grade wax. No other chemicals are used in the process and no power tools touch the metal. I find the hand cutting, filing and sanding lends to the aesthetic of the piece. About me - I work full time as the design manager and community editor for the local newspaper. I painted for many years before picking up a camera. I love wildlife photography with a focus of capturing images of bald eagles that winter along western Oklahoma waterways. Over time, I have come to prefer the hands-on pleasure of working with metal and love the warmth of copper. My pieces are created at my home in the company of my cats and under the watchful eye of my golden retriever Toby. He and my rescue kitty Wylie are constant companions in the workshop."
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